The coronavirus pandemic should have been a moment for global action. Instead, the U.N. is riven with dissension and self-doubt, and countries are going their own way.
Unlike nearly six years ago, when the Security Council declared Ebola a threat to world peace and security, a disease that doesn’t respect borders is no longer enough to push feuding world powers — the United States, China and Russia — to use the U.N. stage to coordinate a political response. China, which held the Security Council presidency in March, when the illness was declared a pandemic and began to overwhelm some European and American health systems, did not call a meeting on it. The U.S., increasingly guided by President Donald Trump’s America First views, has not stepped up at the U.N., feeding the sense that the world body is hobbled, if not utterly paralyzed by the very kind of crisis it was meant to address.